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Reclaiming our relation: a Lummi home for Tokitae

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This is a time of great possibility for Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut, the captive killer whale also known as Tokitae or Lolita. While she has had serious health struggles over the past year, so much in her life has changed for the better. The new owners of the Miami Seaquarium have committed to her well-being, and to doing what is best for her in the long run.

We believe that home is what will be best for our relation, and we want to be ready to receive her. We also believe that those who have decision-making power over her future are more likely to say "yes" to her homecoming if they see that we have a great home for her in the Salish Sea, as well as a robust plan for her ongoing care.

Please help us!
Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut , the orca also known as Tokitae or Lolita, was violently taken from her Salish Sea family over 50 years ago and was sold to the Miami Seaquarium, where she has been performing ever since.

She, like other Southern Resident orcas, is a sacred relation of the Lhaq'temish people of Lummi Nation, in northwest Washington State. Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut is a true Salish Sea daughter, a beloved family member of both her L-pod and the Lhaq'temish people.
Orcas are tremendously intelligent, social beings who dive deep and swim for miles every day. For an orca to be isolated in a small concrete tank is a cruelty. For a child to be separated from her family is a tragedy.
Lummi tribal members have invoked their kinship, legal, and cultural claims to Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut and are calling for her to come home. The Lhaq'temish-led non-profit Sacred Sea has spearheaded a campaign to return Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut to the Salish Sea, where she will be cared for in a custom-built netted area in her native waters.
We are working and fundraising in phases:
Phase 1: completed. We commissioned Whale Sanctuary Project and their network of experts to draft a comprehensive plan on how to safely and responsibly bring Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut home. The plan, which was paid for by online donations from our generous supporters, details all aspects of her return, her Salish Sea home, and her ongoing care.
Phase 2: NOW. Our immediate concern is Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut's health. We raise our hands to all her caretakers at Miami Seaquarium, and to The Dolphin Company for collaborating with the experts at Friends of Lolita, who are so generously supporting Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut's recovery and enrichment. We are thankful to the Seaquarium for inviting Lhaq'temish spiritual practitioners to hold traditional healing sessions with Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut. We believe that science and ceremony, love and medicine, will bring her back into good health.

While Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut continues to recover and strengthen, we continue to work on securing a site for her home in the Salish Sea. We are in search of a safe, protected area in the San Juan Islands. We have narrowed our search down to a few excellent candidate sites. The complicated process of seeing which site(s) might be feasible is next. Leases, permits, permissions, negotiations and outreach are part of this process.
Phase 3: 2023. Once we have secured a site and Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut's health has stabilized, we will begin accepting pledges for putting the entire plan into action.

We have faith that Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut will come home, that an old wrong will be righted, that her orca family will be made whole again, and that this healing will be part of the greater healing that needs to happen between our species and our Mother Earth.
Your donation of any amount is greatly appreciated. It will take all of us, Netse Mot (of one heart and one mind), working together to bring her home. Hy'shqe (thank you) for your support. Your generosity makes our work possible.
Sacred Lands Conservancy 501c3 doing business as Sacred Sea is a Lhaq'temish-led non-profit committed to Indigenous and indigenized stewardship of the Salish Sea. Learn how we can all be in better relationship with the place we call home at


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